Tuesday, February 26, 2008

123 Book Tag

I got tagged by a blogging friend Tricia at Library Queue on a fun book challenge. Here's how it works:

Here are the rules:

  • Find the book closest to you with at least 123 pages.
  • Turn to page 123.
  • Find the fifth sentence.
  • Post the next 3 sentences.
  • Tag 5 people.
I debated between using Milk Glass Moon (an easy, fun read) and The Audacity of Hope which I am ready to start... here's guessing that Barack Obama is more profound than Adriana Trigiani, so here are the words of wisdom from Senator Obama:

"It's hard to tell, of course, whether Ms. Noonan seriously thought I was comparing myself to Lincoln, or whether she just took pleasure in filleting me so elegantly. As potshots from the press go, it was very mild--and not entirely undeserved.

"Still, I was reminded of what my veteran colleagues already knew--that every statement I made would be subject to scrutiny, dissected by every manner of pundit, interpreted in ways over which I had no control, and combed through for a potential error, misstatement, omission, or contradiction that might be filed away by the opposition party and appear in an unpleasant TV ad somewhere down the road."

On to the tagging--I'd love to see what Lula Mae, Kristen, Cheri, Janene, and Sara are reading. Anyone else who wants to join in the fun is welcome to play!

Monday, February 25, 2008

Mothers Who Know

My Relief Society lesson yesterday was the talk "Mothers Who Know" by Julie Beck, Relief Society General President, given at General Conference in October 2007. I admit, as I sat in the Conference Center and listened to her speak, I struggled a bit. I'm not sure what it was, maybe mostly that it seemed to put all mothers into one mold, when in reality we are all so different. I think as women we also judge ourselves harshly against the ideal and feel inadequate if we aren't doing everything perfectly.

Preparing for the lesson was good for me, and I learned a lot more from the talk than I did when I first heard it. Another source of enlightenment for me was the Worldwide Leadership Training (on February 9th) where Elder Oaks, Elder Holland, Sister Beck, Sister Lant (Primary General President), and Sister Tanner (YW General President) had a round table discussion that touched on so many of the same topics. I must confess that this meeting was a small source of contention in our house--one of us didn't want to pay a sitter for a Saturday morning church meeting, the other of us was just glad to get dressed up and go somewhere without the kids for a couple of hours. All of that aside, it was worth going to, at least for me. The topic of the meeting--"Building Up A Righteous Posterity"--covered so many great things, although we had to chuckle as we spent two hours on a Saturday at a meeting where they spoke at length about cutting out extra church things in favor of more family time... but I guess it's something we'll apply in the future, right?

The one thing that stuck out to me more than anything was a discussion on the term "homemaker". I don't think I'm alone in having negative feelings about that title... I picture someone who never gets ready for the day and all she does is cook and clean and has no other talents or interests. This talk and the round table discussion broadened my view a bit... homemaking is nurturing and much more than that.... it is making a home (duh!) which has many aspects, like making sure our family members' needs are met (ugh, I guess that includes housework and cooking), making our homes a safe haven, and making it a learning environment for our children. In that light, I can feel better about being a "homemaker". I still reserve the right to use other titles--domestic goddess, CEO of my home/family, human resources director, etc.... but it's all really just semantics. It comes down to something that Elder Oaks said: "Homemaking is to make the environment necessary to nurture our children toward eternal life, which is our responsibility as parents. And that homemaking is as much for fathers as it is for mothers." Don't you love that thought? Homemaking is for every parent--not just "stay-at-home moms", but for every person that is a parent. I might add too, that some people who don't have their own children still have the opportunity to make a home where other people can learn and grow and be nurtured.

Our discussion during the lesson could have turned ugly--several women made comments that could have been misconstrued (judgments against working moms or families that put off having children and even comments about how two children is just too few or more than four is just too many)--it was challenging as the teacher to use those comments to make the most important point, that we cannot and should not judge one another. For example, I have believed for a long time that many "stay-at-home moms" have so many outside commitments (community organizations, personal interests, even church callings) that not one of us can really say that we dedicate 100% of our time and efforts to parenting. I loved something else that Elder Oaks said--he quoted Pearl Buck (a favorite author of mine) who said "I love my children with all my heart, but I can't love them will all my time." I also have experienced the sorrow at not being able to have more children--and I hope that people don't look at me and wonder why I am "limiting" my family size in favor of material pursuits.

When it comes down to it, we don't know circumstances or desires or heartaches or efforts. Having a family (when, where, how, how many, etc.) is such a personal thing, between husband and wife and the Lord. Many times circumstances are beyond our control, and we all just try to do the best we can with what we have.

I hope that I can do better to believe firmly that every parent is really just putting their best foot forward and doing the best they know how. I hope that I can support and love and assist people in being the best homemaker they can, and that in the process I can be a good homemaker too.

**Do you have negative feelings about the term "homemaker"?
**What other terms do you use for yourself (or your spouse)?
**Have you ever been in Relief Society (or another church meeting) where things got ugly?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

To Sleep or Not To Sleep

I have a few things that I stand on my soapbox about and I need to rant and rave about one of them. Co-sleeping has always been a hot topic for me--and recently in our wonderful community a couple has been charged with child-abuse homicide because their 24 day old baby died while sleeping in their bed. I don't know any extenuating circumstances in this particular case, and there certainly could have been something else involved like drugs, alcohol, or smoking, but come on! First of all, my heart goes out to this couple. They actually lost an older child in similar circumstances. I can't imagine the grief they must be dealing with. Their case has brought co-sleeping into the media and into conversations.

People have slept with their babies since the beginning of time, and just now we decide that it's not only dangerous, it can be murderous??? About 200 years ago people started to get the idea that parenting shouldn't be so cumbersome, that we need to get those babies independent as soon as possible. With methods from Ferber and Spock and BabyWise (which all go against the biologic and physiologic needs of infants) our society believes that babies should be able to self-soothe, stay on a rigid schedule, and sleep through the night. This goes against how our babies are designed and what they need to thrive. For nine months we carry them in utero, and then wham-o, they come out and they are supposed to be by themselves for any length of time? We need to build interdependence, so that yes, at some point they can function on their own, but infancy is not the time for independence.

The Consumer Protection Safety group and the American Academy of Pediatrics have both come out with statements against co-sleeping--these are two groups which I generally respect and try to follow guidelines from. On this issue though, they have missed the boat. The research they base their information on includes all form of co-sleeping--parents who sleep on waterbeds or fall asleep on a couch or chair with a baby and don't differentiate when smoking, drugs, or alcohol are factors. They also use numbers in a way that is baffling to me. In the article printed today in the Tribune "Sharing a bed with your baby?" someone from the Utah Department of Health says that it is dangerous to sleep with your baby because 33 out of 100 babies who died from SIDS were sleeping with a parent. That means that 67 out of 100 babies died from SIDS were sleeping ALONE. In what universe is 67 a smaller number than 33??? That says to me, that those babies who were sleeping alone were at a higher risk for dying from SIDS.

Another thought with this--would we ever charge a parent with child-abuse homicide if their child dies in a car accident? After all, we know that many people die in car accidents, so putting a child in a car is dangerous, right? No! We tell that parent, if you are going to ride in a car with your child, make sure you take the precautions to make it as safe as possible. We teach them about car seat safety (and make it mandatory) to protect the child as much as possible. The same goes for sleeping with a child, if you are going to do it, make sure that you do it as safely as possible:

  • Always put the baby on his back to sleep.
  • If you smoke, do not share a bed with your baby.
  • Use a firm mattress.
  • Do not co-sleep on a waterbed, couch, or chair (those all have places where a baby could become trapped).
  • Do not use fluffy bedding.
  • Don't let your baby overheat, really--they do not need 7 layers of clothing!
  • Don't let other children sleep in the bed with you.
  • If you are overly tired, don't sleep with your baby (which is a little humorous for a new mom--what new parent isn't over-tired?? But, if you think you are so tired you won't arouse, that's "overly tired").
  • If you use drugs or alcohol, don't co-sleep.
  • If you are obese, don't co-sleep.
If any of the above conditions make it so that sleeping in the same bed is not the safest option, sleep close to your baby in proximity--with a side bed attached to yours or in a bassinet or crib nearby, or even on a firm mattress on the floor next to your bed. There is also some evidence that if you don't exclusively breastfeed (another soapbox for another day) that sleeping in the same bed isn't the safest option.

There, I've gotten that off my chest. I will end my rant by stating that co-sleeping may not be what you choose to do, which is every parent's choice. I just hope that as with any important life decision, parents will research and interpret the facts correctly. Co-sleeping can be a wonderful thing that can help parents bond with their baby, and according to the numbers cited above, it can even be PROTECTIVE against SIDS (as has been substantiated by other research). They haven't found any one thing that causes SIDS--but co-sleeping in appropriate circumstances certainly should not be listed among the possible causes.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Post Valentine's Joy

Apparently from my last post it sounded like 2008 was my first and only great Valentine's Day, but that is so not the case... Ryan has always gone out of his way to make holidays special, and Valentine's Day is no exception. The best thing about Ry though is that he does things throughout the year, not just on holidays to show he loves me--and not just gifts and flowers and stuff like that, but he does dishes and gives me nights off and rubs my feet and my back and folds laundry and cooks and cleans toilets and plays with the kids all the time. He's so good to me always. The day after Valentine's Day he was at it again, doing some shopping at Costco on his way home (love Costco!) and picked up these beautiful roses for me. They had a plethora left over so they were a great price (can I take credit for Ryan becoming a bargain shopper, or did he have that quality before?) and he "couldn't resist". I know I say it all the time... but I am lucky (and grateful). And for the record, dark chocolate Dove hearts rock my world, but if milk chocolate is the only chocolate around, I don't turn it down.
On Saturday Coleman and I got to go to an open house birthday celebration for my great-Uncle Lynn. He is my Grandma Cole's brother and he just turned 90! In the picture above (starting at left) is Aunt Erma, Grandpa Cole, Grandma, Uncle Lynn, me, and a less-than thrilled Coleman (but he was a trooper and kept asking "how many more people are we going to meet, Mom?"). It was fun to visit with some family members and friends that we haven't seen in a long time. Happy Birthday Uncle Lynn!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Heart Valentine's Day

I'm such a sucker for cheap holiday shirts from Old Navy. We usually wear them on the day of celebration and then to sleep in for the rest of the year. I especially loved this pirate shirt for Cole--the pirates eye is a heart and the ends of the cross-bones are hearts too... they usually don't have any boyish Valentine's shirts, but this one is right up his alley.
This cute baby girl is Eliza--I get to watch her once a week while her mama is in class. She is so fun to have around the house! Her auntie Carrie Beth (who lives in SoCal) bought her this cute shirt and she called me today while Eliza was here to make sure she was wearing it :).
The kids wanted a "silly face" picture when we took pictures for our Valentine card for their grandparents. Isn't the wood heart cute? It was a fun gift from my sister-in-law for Christmas.
I used to hate Valentine's Day (I think I went through some very bitter years)--but now that I have my very own sweetheart who makes Valentine's Day special I love it. He worked so hard on my gift... and made today such a good one.
Ryan made me a whole stack of "gifts" including a gift of music (with a great mix CD of cool acoustic love songs--if you think mix CDs are cheesy, you are right, but I love them!), coupons for free nights where he takes care of things around the house, dates, flowers, a Roberts gift card, a Dippidee (best cookie shop ever) gift card, and several Cafe Rio gift cards. From the gifts, you can tell how well my Ryan knows me and knows what I like. In addition to all of that, he sent me cheesy text messages throughout the day that made me laugh (for example: "If you were a McDonald's hamburger, you'd be a McGorgeous") and he wrote me the nicest letter and decorated everything with pictures from our wedding. He wins the prize in my book for "Best Valentine Ever". Did I mention that I feel like the luckiest girl in the world?
This is Coleman this morning with his Valentine treats. He opened his shirt and said "Oh, cool, it's a pirate!" We made raspberry muffins (love the mixes from Lehi Roller Mills!) in our heart shaped tins, but he didn't want to eat any because you know, he didn't like the red things in them, so he had cereal instead. After preschool today he came to Olivia's class party with me and joined in the fun with all of her class mates. This afternoon several people dropped valentines off for him (his cute Primary teacher and some other little friends). He said to me, "Mom, people really must like me, huh? 'Cuz they keep giving me stuff!" It's good to be loved. I'm glad I'm his mom!
Here's my sweet Liv. She and I got coordinating t-shirts and we had a great time at her 1st grade Valentine's Party. I got to meet her "Valentine" who she tells me is in love with her, and a little secret, she says she's in love with him too. His mom helped at the party also, so I told her we just might be seeing a bit more of each other. Olivia goes out of her way to show everyone around her how much she loves them and today was no different. I'm lucky to be the mama of such a sweet, kind girl.

**What did you do to celebrate Valentine's Day?

**Do you love milk or dark chocolate Dove hearts better?

**Did you get any fun surprises for Valentine's Day?

**What fun things did you do for the ones you love?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Pay It Forward"

My friend Sara has a fun thing over at The Distressed Futon which I pledged to do--it's called "Pay It Forward". Here's how it works:

“I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this Pay It Forward (PIF) exchange. You may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, which is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog.”

I will make a dozen handmade cards (and send them) to each of the first three that comment and pledge to do a Pay It Forward on their blog... you can choose baby cards, thank yous, birthdays, all-occasion, or a combination of those. Or, if you have an event coming up that you want invitations, I'll do those for you. Join the fun--pay it forward!

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Slow To Anger

A few weeks ago I taught a Relief Society lesson based on President Hinckley's talk from October General Conference titled Slow To Anger. From it, I learned many things, not the least of which is that I probably need anger management therapy. The talk was given in the Priesthood session, but our Stake leaders felt that all of the adult members needed to learn from it. As part of my lesson, I had the sisters write on posters the things that made them angry and what they did to overcome it. My motivation was two-fold--I thought it would make for interesting discussion, but I also wanted to be comforted in knowing that I wasn't the only one who flies off the handle at little (and sometimes big) things. I've kept the posters hanging around thinking I'd jot them down, and finally today, I'm ready to get rid of the posters in order to de-clutter my ever-increasing cluttered home. I thought I'd share the list here--so you can feel better too and maybe get some good coping ideas. I open the questions to you (for comments, please!):

**What makes you angry?
**How do you deal with your anger?

What makes you angry?

  • disobedient children
  • injustice
  • kids not doing jobs
  • wasted time
  • bad hair day
  • people who see others that need help and don't
  • people who don't come to me if they have a problem with something I have done
  • election year--political mudslinging
  • fighting kids
  • uncontrollable clutter
  • gray hairs
  • TV writer's strike
  • post-teen acne
  • ignorance
  • slow drivers
  • dog barking in the night
  • people who don't do what they say they'll do
  • selfish actions and thinking
  • rude remarks
  • people who take advantage of others
  • being judged unfairly
  • when my husband has a problem and he doesn't want to talk about it
  • bad ones of voice
  • I get angry when I get angry (mad at myself for allowing anger to take over me)
  • things I can't control
  • tantrums
  • messy house
  • canceled TV shows
  • grocery carts not returned to the corral
  • when my children ignore me
  • driving--when I feel others are endangering me, driving too close or cutting me off
  • husband doesn't put toilet seat down
  • children being defiant and abusive
  • when my kids say "whatever" and ignore me
The list is of course not all-inclusive (and it's pretty evident that it's a group of women wrote it!). I really liked the discussion that came after with the list of ways to deal with anger (no matter what the cause).

How do you deal with your anger?
  • clear communication with others
  • talk
  • breathe deeply
  • pray for charity and help to forgive
  • go for a walk
  • bake
  • pray
  • think about good things or happy memories
  • step away--remove myself from the situation
  • humor
  • prayer, service, just let it go!
  • scream (probably not AT the people you are angry at, but into a pillow or something)
  • take a time-out
  • work out, exercise
  • create
  • take a deep breath and realize I might not understand someone's day
  • trust that the Lord will make it right
  • give it time
  • attend the temple
  • shop
  • sing a song
  • realize that they might be having a bad day and didn't receive proper training
  • take a nap
Finally, one sister wrote: "I don't know, that's why I need this lesson!"

I loved getting others' ideas for dealing with anger. I hope that I will be better.

President Hinckley's closing words have become all the sweeter for me since the day that I taught the lesson he left us: "Put a smile upon your faces, which will erase anger; speak out with words of love and peace, appreciation, and respect. If you will do this, your lives will be without regret. Your marriages and family relationships will be preserved. You will be much happier. You will do greater good. You will feel a sense of peace that will be wonderful. May the Lord bless you and inspire you to walk without anger, without bitterness of any kind, but to reach out to others with expressions of friendship, appreciation, and love."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sledding Frenzy

Ryan and I decided to turn in our bad parent card and FINALLY take the kids sledding. Olivia and Coleman reminded us woefully that they had never, ever been sledding so when my mom invited us to go with her last weekend, we joyfully accepted. We went to Churchill Jr. High and the snow was pretty good, although a little slushy--it was a perfect sledding day, sunny and warm. As the pictures show, we all had a wonderful time--until the end when Olivia and I crashed pretty hard and I landed on top of her face (ouch!) and left a nice pinkish bruise on her cheek and gave the poor girl a bloody nose. Hopefully she'll want to go sledding again--and hopefully Child Protective Services won't come after me. She kept telling me, "It's okay Mom, I know it was just an accident, but it really did hurt... a lot... and am I still bleeding?" As if I didn't feel badly enough already!